On the study of human conduct as “science”

“First, it is always worthwhile to insist that people explain the words they have chosen to describe what they are doing, so that their purposes may be evaluated. Second, many people who use the word “science” do so in the hope that its prestige will attach to their work. Americans are peculiarly afflicted with science-adoration, which is why we must endure such abominations as the oxymorons Christian Science, Creation Science, Scientology, Policy Science, Decision Science, and Administrative Science, as well as Behavioral and Social Science. And third, when the study of human conduct is classified as science, there is a tendency to limit the kinds of inquiries that may be made: counters and “empiricists”- that is, pseudo-scientists- are apt to deprive others of the right to proceed in alternative ways, for example, by denying them tenure. The result is, of course, that they impoverish all of us and make it difficult for people with ideas to be heard.”

Neil Postman (1988) in Concentious Objections

Comments are closed.